Over the years I've created lot's of different ribbons, for breast cancer, leukemia and even lupus, but this time around I'm creating a purple ribbon to bring awareness to domestic violence, October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. This ribbon is also much more personal to me, and I hope it will empower other women who are, or who have, dealt with domestic abuse, to free themselves and Live their Best Lives.
This is a very difficult post for me to write, because I am baring the deepest, most hurt part of my very soul, but I want to share my story to hopefully help other women get through a similarly difficult time in their own lives. Even writing this is causing a lot of emotions to well up, but I want to share my story to help even one other woman in some way. I was domestically abused, physically, mentally and emotionally for a number of years and the effect it had on me for so long created a life of fear and shame...It shut down a huge part of who I was as a person, I was always in fear of being myself, of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, being the wrong person. It's only recently that I've been able to forgive myself for staying in that relationship, and I now realize I wasn't a victim, I Am a SURVIVOR, I made it through and I feel so much stronger and empowered than I ever could have if I hadn't went through such a difficult time. I'm going to take this self empowerment and use it to help other women become empowered and stand up for themselves and take back control of their lives.
I think of my younger self who suffered the abuse and my heart breaks for her. I wish I could have been there for her the way I am now, with strength, confidence and determination...she should never have had to go through that heartbreak on her own, and I don't want any other woman to have to go through anything similar on their own either. There ARE people out there you can turn to, don't try and do it on your own. Tell someone in your family, a close friend, the police, and if none of these seem to be an option, there ARE organizations out there to help you get through this, whatever you do, you MUST talk to someone to help you get out of the situation. I didn't tell anyone about the abuse until many years later, not even my amazingly supportive family and friends; the shame and embarrassment and misguided loyalty to my abuser stopped me from saying anything. But, if I had spoke out then it would have ended, I could have been free instead of enduring in silence for such a long time. Please don't do that to yourself, find the help, reach out to someone, anyone who can help you extricate yourself from the abuse you find yourself in...and know that it is NOT your fault! You are not to blame for your partner losing control over themselves, that is upon them, NOT you. Once they have used violence, or any form of abuse, against you, you owe them nothing...nothing.
I want women to know that there IS hope, you CAN be free, don't ever forget that. you are a SURVIVOR and have the strength within you to get out. It may seem impossible at times, but the rewards on the other side are well worth what it takes to extract yourself from the abuse, I'm proof positive. I'm living my best life and so happy and free to be me, with no fear of anything, I truly am fearless and embracing my new life with joy and positivity...and it just gets better every day. Work on creating this same life for yourself, do what you have to, to be free.
I am in such a good place now in every aspect of my life because I've moved on from the abuse...and abuser. It was a lot of deep emotional and spiritual reflection that I had to go through, talking it out with people who supported me and helped me understand I wasn't to blame and that I am so much stronger for having made it through...and I AM! I am in a place I could never have dreamed I would be years ago, I feel so free and empowered, and at the same time full of love for the world. This might seem counter intuitive because of what I've gone through...but I don't want to be bitter, or distrusting, or focus on only negative things, I want to be a positive light for other women to look to and know there is hope. You can and will survive this, you will get out and you will forge ahead with a new life that YOU build. You will be the person you deserve to be and live YOUR Best Life...don't ever forget that, hold onto it with every breath you take and move forward with grace and love and hope for a true life of YOUR making.
It's so important for everyone to understand what domestic violence does to someone. It's often not the physical abuse that is the most detrimental, it's the mental and emotional damage that comes with it, the fear that lives with you every day. The fear of saying something wrong, doing something wrong, and not even knowing if it's going to be what triggers the abuse, it's a horribly demeaning way to live. And it's the ultimate betrayal, that the man who is supposed to protect you has turned against you...cuts through to the very soul in a way that can't even be put into words. And it doesn't matter if the abuse stopped years ago...the trust has been broken and can't ever be fully regained. These are memories that are burned into my very being, each one of them like they happened yesterday. But, even though the memories will never go away, the pain and fear has been removed by removing myself from the abuse itself. Once I did that I was able to fully heal and focus on rebuilding my confidence in myself and I have been able to do just that, and so proud of how far I've come and want other women to be able to experience the same thing. But, in order to get to a place of healing you have to first GET OUT, don't wait another day!
If we think of ourselves as victims it takes away our power, and I want to EMPOWER women, not victimize them. I want to keep the discussion open, bring more awareness to this issue and empower women to free themselves and their children from abusive relationships and live THEIR Best Life.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (Intimate Partner Violence or Battering)
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year. Less than 20 percent of battered women sought medical treatment following an injury. ~ Taken from now.org
These statistics are mind boggling, but as someone who never reported the abuse towards me, I can imagine how many other women have kept silent and endured the pain, and perceived shame, of the abuse. I want women to know they have NOTHING to be ashamed of, it is your abusive partner who should be ashamed to have ever thought violence was an option against you, it NEVER, ever is.
All of the proceeds from my "I Am..." collection of t-shirts, mugs, prints, etc. will be donated to womens organizations in the Miami area that help women get out of difficult situations and empower them. I am going to continue to bring more attention to this issue and empower women in whatever ways I can to be strong, confident and stand up for yourself at home, in the workplace, anywhere and everywhere...you are powerful, strong and beautiful, don't ever forget that....you can do whatever you set your mind to, I believe in you...you need to believe in yourself.
I'm not telling my story to look for sympathy, or for anyone to feel sad for me, not at all, I'm very strong, very empowered and know where I'm going in life and what my purpose is...to tell my story and help other women feel the same strength, power and confidence that I now do. If I can help even one woman I will feel like what I went through leads me to a higher calling. If I don't share my story, it just lives inside of me, as a dark secret, and serves no one, not even me; but by sharing it gives purpose and drives me to be a better person and to help and inspire other women to be the same. And I'm here to talk with if anyone needs someone who deeply understands what you are going through - I Am...Here.
I've been wanting to do something to help the families affected by the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub earlier this month. As a long time Orlando area resident, this really hit home to me and I feel the need to contribute in whatever way possible.
I recently started a new collection of designs from my "Livin' the MAD Life™" series, one of those design ideas is "I love my Home Sate", featuring all hand drawn hearts with the abbreviations for each state. I have a new website dedicated to this collection and am working on getting all of the states listed with products from t-shirts to phone cases. I realized that the "I Love Florida" products could be a way for me to help the Pulse victims, by offering a portion of the profits to go to support the tragedy.
From every purchase of the "I love Florida" design I will be donating 25% of the profits to charitable causes helping the victims families, other portions of the profits will be going to provide advertising and marketing to help raise awareness for my support of the sales of these products. The more awareness I can provide by running ads, posting to social media, word of mouth, etc. will help to raise more funds I can donate, so please help me by sharing in whatever way you can!
The design is all about love and pride for living in the state of Florida, and at this dark time in our state history it feels fitting to have the positive message of my art help to bring a little light and positivity to the situation. I hope you will help me to support the families impacted by this tragedy and show your support and love for the great state of Florida at the same time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
All of the "I Love Florida" Products are included in this charitable cause, you can see all of them HERE.